Skimp and save
By Marcus Denton at Feb 10, 2009
I don't understand the big deal with reducing/simplifying the number of menu options Z has. It's not about eliminating content, just reclassifying and re-categorizing it. Mike presses the point by asking how many we might go down to from the current 13- 10, 8, 5? But we could just as easily go in the other direction. How about 20, or 30? I'm sure some people want to see lyrics, and quotations, and pen pals, and... right on the top page. Right?
The point is, Z has a ton of content, in several different content types. Most users seem to be in agreeance that the number of options now displayed actually decreases their ability to use and enjoy the site. It seems like Mike likes the 13 content types now displayed with rollover menus. But, I would argue that doesn't matter. ZCom is supported by thousands of people, and the programmers have to meet their needs, not the other way around. So, that means reclassifying and folding in certain content types with others in order to make a smoother user experience while still retaining content and pathways to that content. I have offered an illustrated idea about how this might be done (yes, I drew that, not an 8 year old).
Let's get a bit more specific, first with a sub-menu. Under the ZSpace tab are the following 12 links:
About, Writers, Sustainers, Members, Networks, Commentaries, Forum Arch., Forums, Quotes, Lyrics, Poems, Join.
After scanning it I think you could have one About/Help page for all of ZCom, and move this link elsewhere. The writers, sustainers, and members links go to search pages. I would simply have a "search" link - probably just on the zspace main page and not even on the rollover - and include optional filters for writer vs. sustainer vs. member. The forum archive should be linked to out of the forums, and these should be moved to ZNet. In its place I would have a message board for less serious, faster moving conversations. I would keep networks but change the name to groups, and make the layout on the groups page more aesthetically pleasing and faster to scan. I would move commentaries to the ZNet tab- again, this is serious content stuff. Borrr-ing! Just kidding. Kind of. Quotes, lyrics, and poems- I think these can go to a Z library.
So after all that, what do we get? The ZSpace top level rollover menu (which itself is a link to the ZSpace top page) offers the following options: Groups, Message Board, Join. Too few? Actually, yes-- I think people need a link to their own page, where they can do any editing or uploading or content creation they need to (the Quick Edit features look good for this) as well as check out any new posts or activity from their friends and groups. Also, chat should be easily accessible to help facilitate its use. So really you end up with: My ZSpace, Message Board (clever name needed), Chat, and Groups.
What about the top level menus? To do this right, we'd need to lay out every single content type and then try to categorize them in the best way possible. Can we do it? There's only one way to find out-- let's try! But not now, I'm tired.